With the holidays coming up I got to wondering how nanotechnology might help Jolly Old St. Nick with his annual gift-giving. I came up with several ideas to make Santa’s life easier.
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer has to retire sometime, so Santa will need some kind of light to guide him on his rounds. To keep a sleigh headlight going he can use an ultra-capacitor, a battery replacement being developed by MIT. Using carbon nanotubes, the capacitor can store ten times as much energy as current hybrid car batteries -- perhaps enough to light Santa’s way around the world. Such an ultra-capacitor would also be light weight, so it won’t overtax his reindeer (who, let’s face it, given Santa’s heft are carrying a pretty big load to begin with).
The last thing Santa needs is to get sick in December, so it’s important that he keep warm on those sub-zero North Pole nights. Aspen Aerogels makes nanoporous materials (Pyrogel) that are excellent insulators. Fabric made of these materials contain billions of nano-sized air pockets that stop heat from escaping. With boots made of Pyrogel, Santa could avoid getting cold feet just as Christmas approaches.
And let’s face it, hundreds of years of sliding down chimneys must also have taken its toll on Santa’s knees. To make up for one-too-many hard landings, Santa’s doctor might try using nano-robots to regenerate the meniscus (the pads between bones in his knees). These nano-robots would be so tiny they could effect repairs without invasive surgery. It may take a few decades to perfect this technique, but Santa’s lasted this long, and since he’s not about to retire, he’ll just have to wait a little longer.
It’s no secret that on his rounds Santa finds lots of milk and cookies waiting for him, and naturally spills do occur. What Santa needs is something like Nano-Tex’s nano-whiskers. These can be used in fabrics to cause liquids to bead up. These tiny pointed carbon whiskers can be used to make milk roll off the old fellow’s suit. Tiny tots trying to catch a glimpse of him will find his suit neat and clean, thanks to nanotechnology.
But what about Santa’s elves who have to slave away making toys all year long? For them a Star Trek-like replicator based on molecular manufacturing techniques would be a great gift. All they have to do is throw some raw materials into the replicator, punch a button and voila: a toy! Building a toy atom by atom, a replicator may actually make toys strong enough to last beyond Christmas morning.
For more ideas about how nanotechnology can help Santa, or you, check out my Nanotechnology Applications Web page.